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Faculty profile: Kevin Grise

Jan 22, 2015
Faculty Profile: Kevin Grise
Tom Cogill

Kevin M. Grise is an assistant professor of environmental sciences. In his work, he uses observations and computer models to understand variability and change in Earth’s atmosphere.  Grise’s current research focuses on how the interaction between clouds and the jet stream might lead to important radiative feedbacks in future climate scenarios.  Grise arrived at U.Va. last fall following two years as a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University.  Before that, he spent a year at McGill University in Montreal as a postdoctoral fellow and received his Ph.D. and M.S. in atmospheric science from Colorado State University.  The recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Grise also served as co-author on the 2010 World Meterological Organization Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Penn State University.


Hometown:  Durham, N.C.


Hobbies:  Hiking, photography, and travel.  I’m also a pretty big college football fan.


What classes are you teaching this semester?

I’m teaching a seminar course exploring the linkages between climate change and our weather.  The media often links every extreme weather event to climate change (Hurricane Sandy, “polar vortex”, current California drought), but this usually has little scientific basis.  So, the class is really about reading through the scientific literature and trying to understand which (if any) of our everyday weather patterns could be affected by climate change.


Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to hear.

I’ve known that I wanted to study the weather since I was 4 years old.  I think my mom still has old audiocassettes of me giving weather forecasts when I was in pre-school!


Who is your greatest hero, and why?

I don’t really have a hero.  I think, while many people have had great accomplishments, we’re all flawed in some way.


Tell us about your most embarrassing moment.

Everybody always assumes that atmospheric scientists know what the weather forecast is, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  But there are many days when I’m busy on a research project and don’t have time to look at the daily weather situation.  And trust me, you don’t want to be the “weather guy” caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella.  Your friends will never let you live it down!


What is the best place you’ve ever lived or visited, and why?

 Colorado.  I went to grad school in Fort Collins, Colorado and fell in love with the American West.  The scenery and hiking opportunities out there are just something special … although I’ve heard the hiking around Charlottesville is great as well!


Thinking about the role of technology in education, what will the U.Va. learning experience be like in 2030?

As technology continues to exponentially improve, I think the learning experience will continue to become more interactive.  Today, students are already looking up information on their laptops and phones during lectures and contributing to class with information in real time.  I imagine this will become even easier in the future.  Sometimes though, the best way to learn a difficult concept is to draw it out as a simple schematic on the chalkboard, so I don’t think that aspect of learning will ever go away.


Since arriving, what have you most enjoyed most about Charlottesville and U.Va.?

Everybody has been extremely welcoming, and I haven’t found a person yet who doesn’t like it here.  There is a strong sense of pride in both the community and university.


If money were no object, what else would you like to pursue?

I would travel as much as I could.  You learn so much more about the world (people, culture, history, geography, weather, etc.) by experiencing it first-hand.


What advice would you give to incoming first-year students?

Don’t be shy!  This is the beginning of a very unique period in life, so take full advantage of it! 


Academically, be disciplined and study in small increments.  Go to office hours, and get to know your professors outside of class.  Not only can this help you if you have a problem in class, but it can also lead to research or independent study opportunities later in your U.Va. career. 


Outside of classes, join a student club or organization, and find a close group of friends with similar interests and/or values.  These people will not only be your study partners and U.Va. “family”, but they will likely become your friends for life.  And most of all, have fun, be smart, and stay true to yourself.

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